U.S. President Trump has signed a new executive order which will block all transactions with Bytedance, TikTok's parent corporation, in an effort to "address the national emergency with respect to the information and communication technology supply chain."
It isn't effectively immediately, but has a 45 day deadline.
The order reads "the spread [of apps controlled by the Chinese government] continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States." "The United States must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security."
A parallel order banned transactions with WeChat, a popular texting app in China that maintains a small user base in the U.S.
What does this mean and how does this executive order turn up the pressure on the back and forth that began by President Trump?
It's the topic of our News In-depth tonight with Mason Richey, Associate Professor of International Politics at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
Mason, good to see you again.
Mason, the move follows U.S. President Trump's announcement on Friday that he was preparing to sign some sort of order banning the app.
The bans mark a significant escalation by Trump in his confrontation with Beijing as the U.S. seeks to curb China's power in global technology, but also, with the U.S. election less than 90 days away, Trump is making his challenge of China a central theme of his campaign, where he trails Democrat Joe Biden in the polls. Would you agree?
Thursday's order alleges that TikTok "automatically captures vast swaths of information from its users," such as location data and browsing and search histories which "threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information.
If true, how could these information be used?
Shortly after issuing the order regarding TikTok, Trump issued a similar order for WeChat, a group chat app owned by Tencent, a Chinese based company.
For WeChat, which allows its users to transfer funds to each other, the order states it will ban financial transactions with Tencent. Observers say banning WeChat in the U.S. could have far greater implications to cross-border business between Chinese and American companies. Is that right?
Before we get in any further, for those of our viewers not too in the know - what is TikTok and what is WeChat?
National security concerns have long fueled policymakers' reservations surrounding the apps. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters last week at the White House that the U.S. government was conducting a national security review of TikTok and was preparing to make a policy recommendation to Trump.
How real is this threat?
In his orders, President Trump names the International Emergency Economic Powers Act as authority for the move, as well as the National Emergencies Act - effectively naming TikTok's continued operation within the United States as a national emergency. Such a move is highly unusual, and will likely be subject to a legal challenge, will it not?
What happens to TikTok has become, improbably, one of the great stories of our time - one that will help us understand how the world economy is likely to develop over the next 30 years.
This is about global rivalry between the U.S. and China of course, but it is also about American politics and about international finance.
If Microsoft does get control of the U.S. side of TikTok, do you think it will bring this into direct rivalry with its newer rivals, like Facebook and Google?
This isn't just about TikTok. The bigger picture is a global rivalry between the world's two largest economies. Perhaps the U.S. not used to being challenged by a rival like China.
What kind of a U.S. versus China are we seeing here?
There are 100 million TikTok users in the United States and Republicans have raised concerns about the political fallout of banning the popular app in the United States. Is this a concern?
TikTok has come out threatening legal actions in the U.S. over Mr. Trump's order. What can TikTok do exactly?
Mason Richey, Associate Professor of International Politics at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, many thanks for your insights this evening. We appreciate it.